Apr 10,2017
Author: Ayana Malaika Crichlow     Publication: The Huffington Post

Mr. Jorge Perez, Mr. Jaume Plensa and friend.

Sitting in the auditorium at the Perez Art Museum Miami, I am both nervous and happy to be allowed the honor of interviewing the name behind the museum. The art talk has just concluded, and I await him as he says his hellos to the multiple people vying for his attention. Handsome and distinguished, he has the perfect Miami tan which compliments his pink shirt and light blue pants. I note that he is gracious to everyone he meets, and I breathe a sigh of relief because not all accomplished men are as gracious. I was greeted with an unbelievably warm reception from the influential soul that is Jorge Perez and it puts me at ease immediately.

Mr. Jorge Perez being interviewed by Moi.

For those who didn’t know, Mr. Jorge Perez is a self-made billionaire real estate developer. Mr. Perez was an economic development director with the city of Miami before he entered the real estate business. He then co-founded the Related Group and began building his fortune. To say that the man had an air about him would be an understatement: he exuded confidence without being arrogant, a feat I thought would be difficult for such an accomplished man. How can one not be arrogant after amassing a fortune out of sheer will, hard work and commitment? I found this lack of arrogance more admirable than anything else about him. Well, almost anything. His insight into art and its importance in enriching and inspiring the lives of the human spirit is also to be commended. Majorly so, because my darlings, although one can recognize the paramount feelings art in all its beautiful forms invokes in oneself, not many can see or even commit to bringing that upliftment of spirit to the masses. Mr. Jorge Perez is committed to this purpose. Caring about the enlightenment of others’ souls through visual art is an admirable trait indeed. Many of us are too busy trying to figure out how to enlighten ourselves to even think about the next person, but this incredible human being does. He has tackled an enormous goal of bringing museum quality art to the public by contributing immensely to the Perez Art Museum Miami both financially and in terms of art donations. He has also founded, what I think is an ingenious way of bringing art to the Miami public, by incorporating it into his buildings, their architecture and landscaping. As he has done with the inclusion of the Fabian Burgos mural, at the Brickell Heights building located at 850 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL. The vision and forethought of such projects are to be commended because now folks like myself can experience extraordinary pieces while zooming past them on our way to work for example. How this vibrant, colorful Fabian Burgos mural affects the landscape of the area is scintillating. Looking at the mural heightens one’s senses and brightens the tone of the day.

Fabian Burgos Mural at Brickell Heights.

While speaking with this visionary, I was afforded his complete attention. He has an all-knowing feel to him as though he can read people really quickly—a fine tuned trait of discernment which must have been harnessed through what must be a phenomenal number of encounters and experiences with varying personalities. I found him to be kind, accommodating and charismatic. The gentleman had a certain swagger about him and expressed himself well through his style and fashion. From speaking with him I learned that he is extremely passionate about art. When asked why it was important to him to bring museum quality public art to Miami, he stated, “Art changes people and art changes cities.” He hasn’t had any real challenges in bringing art to the public, and he surrounds himself with talented architects and artists in order to make his buildings themselves beautiful expressions of art. I learned that he is profoundly committed to his goal of bringing art to all. We were both in total agreement that art feeds the soul.

Fabian Burgos’ Mural at SLS Lux.

It has been weeks since, but I am still soaring from the experience. Meeting great minds and deep thinkers who actually put their ideas into motion is inspirational. Exposing yourself and others to great thought is how you change the world. It is how you bring change and progress. It changes how you think and brings forth new ideas, encourages you to look at life from different aspects: aspects that you would have never been able to see before unless shown. It opens one’s mind. A few moments with this innovative personality has left me even more determined to follow my bliss and make my own profound contribution to the world. At the end of this experience I am left feeling deeply moved by Mr. Perez’s graciousness and by his humanity. At the end of this experience I am left feeling thankful for Art, thankful for the Artists that bare their souls to the world and lastly thankful for the Lovers of Art that make it their mission to bring Art to all.

Fabian Burgos’ Murals at Brickell Heights and SLS Lux.